Playfulness and Sincerity

Playfulness and sincerity can co-exist.
— No-Fi Soul Rebellion

After nearly four hours of bending, twisting, sweating, swearing, getting "comfortably uncomfortable" and discovering new capabilities, I looked out in front of me: smiles. Anyone can put someone's ass through the ringer. It's the Jillian-Michaels-in-your-face-Napoleon-complex-puking-equals-progress-"I'm-not-here-to-make-friends" style of training that compels ratings through the roof every season of Biggest Loser. Type-A me used to seek it out as some sort of validation that the work I was doing mattered. 

A decade later, two major injuries later, I'm still a Type-A practitioner with an overindulgent commitment to the "hard" poses. However, ten years has been enough time to begin making room for lightness, for stillness, for "good space." 

As a teacher I find myself constantly riding the line between wanting students to enjoy class and elevating their experience. This, like everything else, is not an either/or game. Playfulness and sincerity must do more than co-exist: they act as complementary parts of a whole. 

Thanks to all of the fantastic yogis who took me in and gave me two amazing BACK-TO-BACK! workshops at Radiant OM Yoga. Through all the sweat, you never lost your smiles. Thank you for your playfulness and sincerity. That energy made its way 6500 miles home with me!  

East Meets West Meets East Meets West: A Yoga Story

It started as a string of seemingly random quirks: "did you know Iowa is...": "home to the oldest mosque in America;"  "a swing state that is critical in deciding who's running this;" "legalizing gay marriage BEFORE California or most other states for that matter;" "Ashton Kutcher." However, this script began to implant itself to a point where what started as trivializing the place I managed to escape began to reveal an amazing scene through a larger lens. The past couple of years, returning "home" has taken on a new tone. Gone (mostly) are the angst-y pangs of "anywhere but here!" to carrying a certain pride knowing the fastest growing city in America belongs to us: Iowans. 

This particular knowledge piqued my interest searching for communities that shared my love of yoga and continuous improvement and couldn't be more thrilled to make the acquaintance of Robin of Radiant Om Yoga.  Robin has been so gracious in allowing me the opportunity to share my love and learning with a hometown crowd. 

Saturday, July 26th, I'm leading a Super Saturday of workshops! There is something for everyone- the novice to the old pro. 

Workshop Info: Click Image for Details on Each Workshop

Knee Deep: Yoga Medicine for Knees

Knee Deep: Yoga Medicine for Knees

Round and Round: Going Back to Go Forward

Round and Round: Going Back to Go Forward

Join Us!

Special Early Bird pricing if you register by TUESDAY, JULY 22!

1-3 pm Knee Deep: $35/ $30 early bird (by 7.22)

3:30-5pm Backs, $30/ $25 e.b. (by 7.22)

Both workshops, $50  (by 7.22)

Register in person at Radiant Om Yoga or contact Robin: robin@radiantomyoga.com


Say Hi!

Acroyoga: the Art of Interdependence

Acroyoga: The Art of Interdependence

Acro in the City: at the Busan Cinema Center

Acro in the City: at the Busan Cinema Center

I’ve always thought that the mat taught me lessons to take into the world; kind of like growing up in the church. All the standing up and sitting down, old-timey language, and surroundings of people in their “Sunday’s best” (be that behavior or attire) was supposed to be the framework by which to live my life. Anyone who has grown up and taken stock of their faith can attest to bringing insight gained in the secular world back into their understanding of the weekly sermon. They can not remain mutually exclusive. Yoga has come full circle for me in the same way the past year with my discovery of acroyoga. 

 

Strength and independence have been the backbone to my identity since the first day I walked into kindergarden and was confused by my peers’ tears and pleading with their mothers not to leave them alone. The same thing happened at 17 when I left my mother for good. I felt a certain pity listening to my friends lie to their mother’s as to why it was my name was coming up on the caller ID. “Mindy has her own line.” I did in fact have a separate telephone line from my mother- at a separate address in a separate county. Ten years after leaving my mother’s home, I leave my mother land and immerse myself in life as an expat in Korea. 

 

“You’re too strong.” This was hurled at me in the midst of an argument by my Korean boyfriend. This outburst of frustration was borne out of many months trying to figure out how to gain space in my life. This spoke to the nuance of bridging a wide cultural gap between gender roles in Korean and American society. He doesn’t remember this fight. I, on the other hand, haven’t been the same ever since. His temporary frustration brought into question the very core of my identity built over many years and countless struggles- some my own fault, some put upon me. My norms were set against a contrasting cultural backdrop, and all of these things that unknowingly defined me began to reveal themselves. “Strong, independent woman” is a sort of mantra I had subconsciously absorbed growing up in the States. When did I become so obsessed with being independent? More accurately, when did needing someone become akin to social leprosy? 

 

My reaction to this comment were two-fold: 1. I saw him as weak. If I was strong, by his own admission no less, logical deduction leaves him as weak. 2.  I had to carry us. He used the word “strong,” a positive word; an empowered word. Had this fight happened between two Americans, “strong” (good) would have morphed into “dominant-controlling-bitch” (bad). Therefore, the problem must lay with him. Strong as I was, I now had the added burden to carry what had now been revealed to be a “weak” person. 

 

 

Yoga is roughly translated as union. That could be esoteric or as accessible as you make it. Maybe it starts with learning to keep the breath and movement synchronized. We’ll save merging ego with universal consciousness for another time. In acro, this synchronicity, this union, between the two partners is critical for establishing any sort of practice.

 

There’s an expression that you shouldn’t “top from the bottom.” In acro, the roles are reversed but the sentiment is the same: essentially, the submissive role can’t back-handedly exert the dominance. I’m folded in half, perched upon my partner’s feet like a book opened to the middle and placed over a railing. I’m a mere foot and a half at best off the ground, but falls are scary regardless of how high. Everything in my body goes tense under the misguided notion that the more tension I take on, the more I lessen his load, and by proxy, the more control I can take. I’m given one instruction: as the flyer, don’t try to control the balance with my hands. There is the tiniest of jolts as my partner settles in. I instinctively freak, assuming he doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing, this moment rhyming with so many others that ended in explosive arguments.  I slap my hands against the mat to not only catch me- to save us. Overstepping my bound in that fraction of a second, he had to catch me and reset himself to keep us both balanced.

 

Balance is a delicate thing. Managing on my own is challenging enough. Striking balance between two people, on the mat or in the world, how is the divorce rate only 50 percent? Growing up, I was too “strong” to divulge into wedding day fantasies. Against my best intentions, I wasn’t immune to fantasies of love. My ideal scenario: two partners constantly working to be the best versions of themselves. In this perfect moment of our best selves coming together, we can do more than we ever imagined. This is what we want to believe watching Briohny and Dice (aka: “Bryce,” aka: that hot Equinox acroyoga couple) perform mind-blowing aerial stunts backed by a soundtrack of face-melting guitar solos. 

 

This was my mistake in that simple acro balance, my mistake in that original argument, my mistake in my world view mostly up until now: interdependence is not the mathematical average found between two people assuming opposite roles of independent and dependent. Being less weak didn’t make me strong and vice/versa. It took awhile for me to realize that relinquishing control isn’t the same as losing control and didn’t make me weak/lazy/dependent. I couldn’t do his job for him, and he couldn’t do what he needed to without me granting him the trust and space to do so. The true metamorphosis of my strength lay in allowing myself to be carried.

 

I’m still a strong person. I still like identifying myself as such. It’s comfortable. However, I have begun peeling back my negative connotations from dependance and weakness. They have their place. We need each other, not only to survive, but to thrive. 

 

 

Life doesn’t stop on the mat. It continues. Yoga is not a dance. Yoga is not a performance. It is a practice that keeps us unravelling our selves. The falls and missteps are as much part of the practice as nailing that one move that’s been hours of practice in the making. Even so, we return. We try again. And again. And again; totally aware that trust lay in two bringing their best to the mat but sometimes that best translates as pulling back to allow another to pull forward. If that isn’t the greatest analogy for union- matrimonial or otherwise, I don’t know what is.